There are renewed calls for persons who exercise outdoors to be more aware of their surroundings and take precautionary measures to ensure their safety, especially when jogging alone.
The warning comes after a 56-year-old woman told our news team that she twice had to fight off an attacker after going for an early-morning jog in St Andrew. She said that on both occasions, the man, who appeared to be a stalker, tried to sexually assault her.
“I usually come out a little after 4:30 a.m. Early last year, I was approached by this guy who tried to grab me and rape me. There were people on the road. I yelled out to them and a man that had passed by realised I needed help and turned back to my rescue, so he (the attacker) ran away.”
She said she made a report to the police, who she said seemed uninterested in her story.
This, she explained, was the cause of her failure to report the other attack that would follow.
The woman, who wished not to be identified, said that roughly a month ago, the man returned and attacked her again.
“This time, I was jogging near where I live in the Waterloo Road area. I felt somebody grab me from behind. He was trying to pull me across the street and into the bushes, but I pulled myself back and pushed him off. I kept fighting back.”
She continued: “He punched me in my mouth, busted my lip, and dragged me to the floor and slapped me in my face. My elbow scraped badly. I scratched my back on the ground and a piece of my skin came off. We were fighting because I said there is no way I was going to let this smelly guy with mopped hair rape me.”
The man ran away for a second time.
“My lip is healing now,” she said, adding, “I prefer jogging by myself because I get to think and clear my head, but jogging alone is dangerous.”
AVOID EXPENSIVE GADGETS
Security expert and chief executive officer of McKay Security and Investigative Services, Jason McKay, said jogging alone can be a risky venture and some persons make themselves targets by using expensive gadgets to play music and monitor their heart rates. He says while companies provide security escort services for joggers, persons should avoid carrying expensive gadgets when working out.
“There has been a problem because people use cellular phones while running. Back in the day, people used to jog in shorts and T-shirt. Nowadays they are pretty much running around with $100,000 strapped on to their arm,” he said.
“This is a country where you go beyond just being robbed. This is a country where you get killed or raped, which are ultimate crimes. We have had cases where persons have tried to abduct them, and so on. I wouldn’t say it is epidemic, but it is concerning.
“There have been requests for us to provide zonal security. For example, you have areas where they are running up hills and so on, so we provide security at intermittent points to ensure their route is safe. I think you should try and avoid the expensive cell phones when running,” McKay told The Gleaner on Sunday.
Acting Assistant Commissioner of Police Steve McGregor, who is in charge of the Community Security and Safety Branch, is also advising joggers to always be mindful of their safety.
“Persons should not jog by themselves. The key is to do it in groups. People will prey on your vulnerability in that way, especially if you are a woman,” he said.
He said while there are police patrols in some popular jogging spots, “Some support base needs to be out there with you.”